SUNY employee union suggests guidelines for reopening campuses come autumn

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — United University Professions, a union representing 37,000 employees at SUNY campuses across New York wants strict measures to protect students, staff, and visitors to be in place before reopening in the fall.

UUP President Frederick E. Kowal, Ph.D., says the “core issues” include:

  • Mandatory, recurring, and universal COVID-19 testing
  • Contact tracing and self-isolation procedures
  • Strict social distancing and face-covering requirements

The union says all staff and students should be tested before classes begin and on a recurrent basis, with increased availability to rapid-result testing both on-demand and if there is a spike in infections. Staff who test positive would be sent home until they test negative, and students would be quarantined in remote housing.

The union also promotes having professors teach remotely to lessen employee density. SUNY would also provide personal protective equipment to staff.

The union says more funding from the state would be necessary to enact the precautions and to create a safe atmosphere. However, leaders great and small throughout state and local governments have repeatedly signaled that, in the event of budget shortfalls due to the coronavirus, funding for education will be the first cut.

UUP represents hundreds of workers in the SUNY system, from sheepherders and glassblowers to dormitory and food-services directors. Its stipulations come from a six-page report it released on Monday titled “Assuring a Safe Working Environment During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”

“Our students want to return to campus, and we want to welcome them back, but this can only be accomplished under conditions that minimize the spread of the coronavirus and include steps to trace and isolate anyone contracting the virus.”

Dr. Frederick Kowal

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